So you’ve been enjoying your online prenatal yoga and pilates classes and you’re hooked. You’ve realised how much more convenient it is to do classes online rather than go to the studio. You might be considering investing in some props but you’re not sure where to start looking. So I’ve put together a guide for you including both eco- friendly, budget and DIY options. As a studio owner for 11 years, I’ve tried and tested most of the items on my list so that hopefully the only decision you need to make is what colour.
Eco- Friendly: I love Manduka mats because they last a lifetime so no landfill. The brand stands firmly behind this by offering a life- time guarantee. I’ve had my Manduka mat for 10 years and it’s been used almost daily either indoors, on the grass, sand, concrete, in dirt and in the rain (I’m pretty hard core just like the mat!) and it’s still got many years of yoga ahead of it. These mats are like the BMW of yoga mats- soft, luxurious and non- slippery.
Budget: I don’t recommend a “fitness mat” which is usually narrower than a yoga mat, thicker and is a bit of a tripping hazard. I’m not a fan of the cheap PVC mats mainly because they’re thin, slippery and release toxic gases in production, in use and in it’s disposal. So if you’re on a budget but can afford to spend a little more, these TPE mats from Stretch Now are a good option.
DIY: a towel on the carpet
What For: In prenatal yoga we use a bolster for baddha konasana (Bound Angle Pose) or resting our head and chest in Balasana (Child’s Pose) or Malasana (supported squat) and for supporting the knees and ankles in side- lying for deep relaxation.
Eco- Friendly: I love the oval organic cotton bolsters made by Stretch Now They’re filled with organic cotton and encased in a zippered, washable 100% organic cotton cover. And they come in the most beautiful patterned or plain designs.
DIY: Staggered folded blankets or a firm pillow wrapped in a blanket.
What for: In prenatal yoga we use blocks under the bolster in Supta Baddha Konasana so you’re only semi supine (and not flat on your back). If your knees are high off the floor in this same pose, you can put a block under each knee to bridge the gap between the knees and the floor. We also use them as an extension of your arms- that is, to create more length and space for your belly and chest in a low lunge or Prasarita Padottanasana (standing wide legged forward bend) or you can sit on a block to help you sit with a neutral pelvis (for optimal foetal positioning) in seated postures.
Eco- Friendly: I love the cork blocks made by Stretch Now. Cork is renewable, sustainable, non toxic and long lasting.
Budget: These foam blocks from KMART come with a strap.
DIY: 2 x 400ml cans
What for: In prenatal yoga we use a strap for shoulder and chest stretches, to bridge the gap between the hands when we can’t reach or to assist us in seated forward bends.
Eco- Friendly: I love the organic cotton strap from Stretch Now. It’s durable and it comes in lots of beautiful colours.
Budget: this cotton and polyester one that comes with the block from KMART.
DIY: a Theraband (latex band), your partner’s tie or belt, a sarong or a skipping rope.
What for: to enhance your deep relaxation at the end of the class (and for yoga nidra throughout pregnancy and in your postpartum while your baby is sleeping).
Eco- Friendly: I love these 100% bamboo eye pillows from Stretch Now They’re so soft and luxurious and filled with flax seeds and dried lavender which work to block out light and provide gentle weight to the pressure points around the eyes and temples. They’re available in some gorgeous colours.=
DIY: an eye mask, a clean sock or a piece of clothing.
BIRTH BALL (Fit Ball/ Stability ball/ Swiss Ball)
What for: It has many useful functions in pregnancy, postpartum and beyond.
In pregnancy it can be used to sit on instead of a chair to optimise the position of your pelvis (for optimal foetal positioning), in yoga and pilates to sit on and do wall squats, to lean over in the later stages of your pregnancy to relieve back pain and to give your baby space to come into a good position, sitting on or leaning over whilst on your knees in labour, for sitting on in the shower or leaning against in the bath during labour.
After you bring your baby home, you can sit on it and rock, do hip circles or gently bounce to settle your baby (and relieve your sore lower back) and finally for exercise (with or without weights). It has many functions and is a great investment.
When choosing a ball, keep in mind your hips should be higher than your knees so your pelvis is in a neutral position. If your knees are higher, your spine will be in a posterior tilt (rounded). If you’re over 165cm I suggest the 65cm ball but if you’re between 150- 165cm I suggest the 55cm.
Built To Last: these ones from Stretch Now are durable and anti- burst. I used these in my yoga and pilates studio for 10 years and they don’t look a day older.
THERABAND (Resistance Band)
What for: building strength in the upper and lower body, stretching and as a tactile cue in pilates.
Built To Last: they come in different colours which means different resistance. For prenatal yoga I would suggest the green one which is level 3.
Budget: I would suggest the green ones from Kmart which are medium.
What for: building strength in your upper body. I would suggest 1- 2kg for pilates and nothing more. Whilst it might seem light, the more repetitions we do, the heavier they become.
Budget: You can’t beat the 1kg or 2kg weights from Kmart.
What for: like the birth ball, it has many useful functions in pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. In pregnancy it can be used in Prenatal Pilates for support and gives the best hip and glute massage. Postnatally it can be used to challenge core exercises and to massage your neck and upper back.
There are half size rollers you can get from Kmart that you can use in pregnancy to massage your glutes but you’ll get more use out of a full size one. When choosing a roller, go for the softer smooth one without the spikes or lumps and bumps like this one from REBEL.
My new Mama Retreat At Home Membership starts May 1. Enjoy a LIVE Prenatal Yoga and a Prenatal Pilates class every week and more. Find out more HERE
Are you a tired, pregnant mama? Get your free 20 minute Guided Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra) to take you from exhausted to energised. Fill in your details HERE and I’ll send it to your inbox for you to download.